Windrush compensation increases slammed as 'sticking plaster over gaping wound'

The decision to give victims of the Windrush scandal higher compensation pay-outs has been slammed as 'a sticking plaster over a gaping wound.'

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 7:00 am
Campaigners Sekeena Muncey (left) and Glenda Andrew with Preston MP Sir Mark Hendrick.

While leaders of the fight for justice for families affected in the Preston area have broadly welcomed the news, one has attacked the Government for still putting the onus on victims to prove their case.

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a major overhaul of the compensation process yesterday, with payments being increased significantly and delivered more swiftly.

Ms Patel and Bishop Derek Webley – co-chairs of the Windrush cross-government working group – said that, having listened to complaints about the scheme across the country, they recognised it was “crucial that we go further and faster to help those who need it”.

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Under the changes, the minimum payment will be raised from £250 to £10,000, while the maximum payment will rise from £10,000 to £100,000, with options for higher awards in exceptional circumstances.

But Anthony Brown, chair of the Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants campaign group, told the Post: "Obviously we think it is a step in the right direction.

"But, as always, the devil is in the detail. And the detail of this is where they (Government) say claimants have to show it has had an impact on their families.

"We are opposed to that because it was the claimants who had to show they had the legal right to be in this country and also it was the claimants who had to show they deserved to be compensated for the unspeakable things which were done to them.

"Now, here we are again, with claimants having to show information that the Home Office has already had. The Home Office needs to do some work itself and pay them this compensation instead of putting them through the mill again.

"What needs to be understood is that the Government is just putting a sticking plaster over a gaping wound. We still need to know what they are going to do to right the fundamental wrong, which was the status that was taken away from these people."

The Windrush scandal erupted in 2018 when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation despite having the right to live in Britain. Many lost homes and jobs and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.

Ms Patel described the scandal as a tragedy and said it “can never happen again”.

The compensation scheme has so far paid out more than £2m and offered £1m more, but the Home Secretary said more must be done to repair the damage.

“We want these changes to make a real difference to people’s lives, and urge everyone who may have been affected to apply,” Ms Patel and Bishop Webley wrote.

“While nothing can undo the suffering that some members of the generation and their descendants endured, we hope these changes will go some way to ease their lives, and enable them to move forward with hope and determination.

“We are determined to ensure those who were so badly let down get every possible support and fair compensation.”

Sekeena Muncey, a victim who founded the Preston Windrush group, reacted to the news of increased compensation by saying: "These people deserve it after all they have been through.

"What the Government were offering wasn't enough. Hopefully it will be paid out quickly, but for some it will be too late."

And fellow group official Glenda Andrew added: "It's great news, although it's absolutely ridiculous they have had to wait so long. But, like a lot of people, I'll believe it when I see it."

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